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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Review: Ju-on: Origins

Director: Sho Miyake
Screenplay: Takashige Ichise and Hiroshi Takahashi
Year: 2020

Asian horror cinema has been an interest of mine for quite some time and “Ju-on” and “Ringu” were the ones responsible for igniting that curiosity in me and also for traumatizing part of my youth. Some time has gone by and this sector of horror cinema has continued to be refined, but not all movies in this sector have followed that thread. It is enough to see the latest entry in the “Ju-on” franchise, “The Grudge” released at the beginning of this year, to understand the origin of this comment.

“Ju-on: Origins” follows a series of stories that all have in common an act of extreme violence in the same house that awakens a vengeful supernatural force. A famous writer and paranormal researcher is devoted to gathering these stories while searching for their origin to try and understand how this place is tied to his life.

Although it can be argued that “The Grudge” does not belong to this sector of Asian horror cinema because of the fact of it being an American movie, “Ju-on: Origins” preserves its Japanese roots and expresses some of the same problems seen in the movie. Actually, after seeing “The Grudge” I thought that the franchise couldn’t get any worse, but it got easily surpassed in the worst way possible by this series. At least the movie had a few frightening images, but this series lacks that terrifying element that propelled the vengeful ghost to popularity. 

After wasting three hours of my life that I will never get back the only thing that I found that was associated with “Ju-on” is that its plot has to do with a ghost that follows those that enter in a house and takes them to their gruesome deaths. This new story that arrives from the hands of director Sho Miyake (“Playback”) and that promises to shed light into the origin of the curse, not only forgets to tie its story with the original movie but it also completely forgets that it is a tale of horror and develops as a dark crime drama. As can be suspected, the series lacks the horrific imagery that made Kayako and Toshio the reason for the nightmares of many.

The story presented by screenwriters Takashige Ichise (“Ju-on: The Final Curse”) and Hiroshi Takahashi (“Ringu”) mixes several stories that take place in the same house in different times, but that end up being repetitive and they only seem like a way to justify its unnecessarily long runtime. Besides, it is confusing trying to follow the stories when sudden time jumps are made, and you are unsure of what’s going on. What’s even worse is that the stories are not interesting and in most of them some vents take place that makes no sense at all and this ends up killing any interest that might have existed for the plot.

The “Ju-on” franchise has had a spectacular run that has given us many moments that are as terrorific as they are memorable, but by judging what has been recently offered, it is time to let it die. When you thought that it was not possible to make anything worse than the last film, Netflix brings this series with the idea of showing that something worse is possible. This series only uses the name of the franchise as a promotion to a story that holds little relationship with the movie we all love and it lacks the horror elements that made this franchise famous.

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